Colombia’s security forces in 2012 executed 52 civilians who were then presented as enemy combatants killed in combat, according to a report by the human right NGO CINEP.
According to the report, the southwestern Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments and the northwestern Antioquia department were the most hard-hit by extrajudicial executions, the report said. Indigenous and rural peasants continued being the most common victims of this practice, euphemistically dubbed “false positives” by the government.
According to CINEP, the number of false positive cases went up to 20 in 2012 compared to 17 in 2011.The number of victims, however, went down from 85 to 52.
Compared to the first ten years of this century, the number of false positive cases committed by the armed forces was relatively low. According to data by the Prosecutor General’s Office, in 2007 for example, at least one in five of the 2703 reported combat kills were in fact assassinated citizens.
FACT SHEET: False positives
The Colombian government denied there had been cases of false positives in 2012.
A false positive — originally a term used in statistics and medicine — is the killing civilians and dressing them up as combatants to subsequently register the victims as combat kills. According to August 2012 statistics from Colombia’s prosecutor general’s office, more than 2,997 civilians have been killed in this manner. According to a later report by the United Nations, the number of registered and recognized victims since grew to over 4,000.
The report further said that “paramilitaries” were the perpetrators of most violations of human rights last year. The NGO said that 565 cases of human rights violations in 2012 were committed by groups that emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary organization AUC. Colombia’s National Police was blamed for 268 cases of human rights violations and the National Army 187. Left-wing rebel groups like the FARC and ELN were not mentioned in the report as human rights violators.
In regards the violations of international humanitarian law, the neo-paramilitary groups were also the primary perpetrator with 493 cases, followed by rebel group FARC (347 cases) and the army (118 cases).
Human rights violations and infractions of international humanitarian law per armed actor
The CINEP called on the national government to increase its pressure on regional and local governments to protect the rights of citizens and respond more swiftly in the case of alerts of pending political violence.
The NGO called on the international community to play a more active role in the monitoring and enforcing of human rights in Colombia and support its government’s initiatives to compensate victims of political violence.
- Informe especial (CINEP)